Children celebrate Halloween around the world on the night of October 31st. They go out in macabre costumes of ghosts, witches or skeletons to knock on their neighbours' doors and shout "Trick or treat!" The neighbours must give them sweets; otherwise, the children will play tricks on them. Halloween is big business in the United States where people spend around seven billion dollars each year on Halloween products. Theme parks like Disneyland hold week-long festivals and many cities have parades. New York's Village Halloween Parade attracts two million people who celebrate in the streets, dressed in stunning costumes. The tradition is strongest in the United States, but interest is growing in Europe.
Actually, Halloween originated in Europe as a Celtic New Year celebration. For the Irish, in the Celtic calendar, October 3lst was Samhain, a pagan festival. The Celts believed that the dead returned to possess the living during that night, and so they opened their doors and provided food to the wandering good souls and wore costumes to scare off the evil ones.
In the l9th century, Irish and Scottish immigrants took their traditions to America and it seems that trick-or-treating is linked to Irish Samhain traditions, and thus became popular about the time that the Irish began to immigrate to the United States in large numbers, fleeing from Ireland's potato famine of 1846. They began to dress up in costumes and go from house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's trick-or-treat tradition. A new American tradition was born and has continued to grow. Today, Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in the United States.